Craft Master Growlers was generous enough to supply all growlers and accessories in exchange for an honest review. The information below is my own unbiased opinion.
I love the convenience of being able to quickly fill a growler of my homebrew for day trips, but it’s literally a ticking time bomb from the moment you crack the seal. Beer is realistically good for only several hours until it starts to go flat. Enter Craft Master Growlers.
I recently got to test out Craft Master Growlers pressurized growlers. Essentially it’s a premium growler with a mini tap handle that keeps your transportable beer (or cocktails!) fresher and carbonated for much longer. Craft Master Growlers was nice enough to send me two growlers to put to the test along with all sorts of cool swag!
The Craft Master CO2® pressurized growler uses food-grade CO2 cartridges with an easy-to-use regulator cap to pressurize, preserve, and maintain your beer’s carbonation on the go. They are available in both 64 ($149) or 128-ounce ($199) sizes and come in a mirror or brushed finish. Just to note the mirror polish adds about $10 to the cost of each growler. The growlers are well-built and feel heavy-duty. The rectangular design makes them perfect for slipping into tight spaces or even storing on your refrigerator door.
The growlers have a liquid-level sight glass and a miniature tap pull handle for the perfect pint every time. No more splashing or awkward pours from a hard-to-grip glass growler. They’re made of stainless steel and are built to withstand the elements. Dropping a full glass growler on a hard surface would be like dropping a bomb. Outside of pure functionality and safety, they’re really classy looking and can even be laser engraved! I had both my brand logos added and the precision and quality are pretty amazing.
Right out of the box, the growlers ship with everything you need to start transporting and dispensing your beer right away. They’re shipped with extra CO2 cartridges, powdered brewery wash (PBW), and of course a handy instruction booklet. I was pretty impressed with their overall look and feel. They feel like a premium growler and look awesome. While the tap handle is small, it doesn’t feel cheap or like it could easily break.
The 64-ounce growler comes with 10 8-gram CO2 cartridges while the 128-ounce version comes with 6 16-gram cartridges. Each cartridge contains enough CO2 to dispense a full growler.
The basic stock lid features a pressure release valve (zipper tab), pressure gauge, and ON/OFF knob to regulate the flow of CO2. The more you turn the knob toward the ON position, the more CO2 will be dispensed into the growler. You want to keep the serving pressure in the green shaded setting on the gauge (10-12 PSI is recommended however I prefer even less). If you use excessive pressure you’ll have some aggressively foamy pours.
Craft Master Growlers also sent me a specialized ball lock CO2 post lid specifically designed for homebrewers. This will allow you to pressurize your growler using your own CO2 tank. Another major benefit of this lid would be for purging the growler for maximum preservation of IPAs or NEIPAs. While this MAY be overkill, it would allow you to fill the growler with a hoppy beer without the risk of it totally oxidizing in a short amount of time. A great option for storing your beer for 3-4+ days. More on this later.
Cleaning Your Growler
Cleaning your grower before and in between batches is as easy as filling the growler with hot water, brewery wash (or dish soap), and letting it soak for 30 minutes. This is recommended for cleaning in between uses in order to avoid nasty buildup. I ended up using the CO2 cartridge to actually push some PBW and fresh water through the tap to ensure everything was thoroughly cleaned and ready for first use.
If you’re reading this you’re likely a homebrewer and buy brewery wash in bulk. Craft Master Growlers sells all sorts of replacement parts, CO2 cartridges, and premeasured mini packets of brewery wash. If you’re not a homebrewer, this takes any and all thinking out of the process—something I can appreciate. Just as a final note, it’s not necessary to clean with PBW in between every single use. Dish soap is fine.
Using the Growler
After cleaning my growler, I filled it directly from my tap tower. I would 100% recommend you attach a small length of 1/2 inch ID silicone tubing to your tap faucet so you can bottom-fill the growler without excessive foaming. This will also preserve carbonation loss. I inserted the CO2 cartridge into the lid and screwed the cap onto the growler. I set the pressure to about 10 PSI and packed my growler for the beach.
The growler works really well overall. The beer pours flawlessly and everything stays fresh and of course, carbonated throughout the entire growler’s lifespan. It’s great because you can use small plastic cups or tumblers and do small 8-ounce pours at a time. I can’t think of an easier way to share my beer with friends. As a quick tip, you can tilt the growler forward on the very last pour to dispense all but maybe 1 ounce of beer from the growler.
While I’ve used both size growlers, I probably prefer the 64-ounce version for everyday use. It’s compact, easy to handle, and great for a few beers on the beach. Just to note, the last pour may cause the 64-ounce growler to be a bit more tippy.
A word of caution: ALWAYS fully release the pressure from the growler before opening the lid. Also, make sure the CO2 cartridge is empty before unscrewing the holder from the cap. Keep the cap pointed AWAY from you and slowly unscrew so any leftover pressure can safely be released.
Beer exposed to air will be susceptible to some form of oxidation over an extended period of time. While these growlers will help to preserve your beer for much longer than a standard growler, some beers will of course STILL show signs of degradation from transferring. I’m talking about sensitive styles such as NEIPAS. If you wanted to be really meticulous, you could fill your growler to the brim with water or Star San/water solution and use CO2 to push all water out of the growler, leaving you with an empty and totally oxygen-purged vessel.
While this is likely overkill for most situations, it’s the only way to ensure your hazy IPA will stay super fresh and won’t totally degrade over the course of several days or a week (or two). This would be much easier to pull off with your own CO2 tank and ball lock keg lid, however, you could also do it with the supplied CO2 cartridges. If you’re planning on keeping a hazy IPA for more than a day or two, you’ll really benefit from this approach. It seems like it may be a lot of work, but it honestly only takes a few minutes to prep.
Not Just for Beer
As a cocktail connoisseur, I was interested when I heard these are great for serving fizzy batch cocktails. I had to give this a shot so I mixed up a batch of Tom Collins cocktails for a family gathering. It’s probably one of the coolest ideas out there. A full-on fresh classic cocktail can be poured over ice and is as fizzy as the moment you first made it. It’s great because it’s self-service and I can make everything up ahead of time. If you need inspiration, think Palomas, Moscow mules, Tom Collins, Aperol Spritz, the list goes on.
I’ve been enjoying my growlers for the past few months and absolutely recommend them to any homebrewer or craft beer nerd. While I’ve only used them for my own homebrew, they’re a great option for filling at breweries as well! While they’re a little bit of an investment upfront, I’ve gotten tons of use out of mine and they feel built to last. Not to mention they’re an awesome conversation piece at any party.
If I had to recommend ANY accessories to purchase it would of course be plenty of extra CO2 cartridges along with their Bar Mats. The faucet does not seal quite as fast as a standard tap so you need to keep your glass under the spout for an extra 2 seconds before pulling it away. The mat is a nice touch so you don’t get drips on the counter or whatever.
I really love the general convenience of being able to transport and dispense my own beers for friends to try. While I have a canning machine, it’s not always the best option for last-minute beer requests. While I use my 64-ounce growler more often, The 128-ounce version is great if you’re going to be sharing beers with friends or larger groups. I think the homebrewer with a kegging system is likely to see the MOST value out of these growlers. It just opens up a lot of possibilities and would also be an awesome gift idea for the brewer in your life.